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Input och output. Ordföljd i svenska barns huvudsatser och bisatser

by Waldmann, Christian, PhD

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis investigates the word order in the main and embedded clauses of four Swedish monolingual children, covering the age range 1;3–4;0. Using a generative framework, a quantitative and qualitative analysis focusing on the syntax of verb placement and complementizers is presented. Chapters 1 to 4 offer a background to the thesis. In chapter 1 the aims and the material are presented. Chapter 2 provides a generative analysis of verb placement and complementizers, constituting the descriptive framework of the empirical studies. Chapter 3 discusses some theoretical issues in language acquisition research and their implementation into the study. Particular attention is paid to the relation between input and output. Finally, chapter 4 depicts some methodological considerations. Chapters 5 to 8 present the empirical results. It is shown that Swedish children are exposed to a robust input of verb movement to the second position in the clause, C°, whereas the input frequency for the absence of verb movement from V° is very low. In embedded clauses the input is ambiguous between verb movement and absence of movement. Also Swedish children are exposed to both overt and covert complementizers. Early on, three children productively and consistently move the finite verb to the second position (C°) in main clauses. The fourth child acquires verb movement in main clauses gradually. The finite verb initially seems to surface in its base-generated position (V°), then in a medial position (I°) and finally in the second position (C°). All four children had mastered verb movement to the second position in main clauses when they started producing embeddings with overt and covert complementizers. Finally, all children occasionally over generalize verb movement in embedded clauses by incorrectly placing the verb before a sentence adverbial instead of after it. Chapter 9 discusses the theoretical ramifications by evaluating the empirical results in the light of the theoretical issues discussed in chapter 3. Especially I argue against a particular structure-building hypothesis to functional differentiation which states that overt complementizers trigger the acquisition of the CP-layer. Furthermore, I propose that inaccurate verb movement in embedded clauses in Swedish children is the result of an ambiguous input. This suggests a greater role for input than traditionally assumed in generative acquisition studies.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Lunds universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:HUMANITIES and RELIGION; input; syntactic cues; frequency; functional categories; word order; verb placement; verb movement; complementizers; main clauses; embedded clauses; verb second; language acquisition

ISBN:978-91-628-7477-3

Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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